Kings-Blue Jackets Preview
GAME: Los Angeles Kings (30-22-5) at Columbus Blue Jackets (22-31-2).
TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EST.
Two teams who have had trouble playing short-handed recently meet as the Los Angeles Kings travel to Nationwide Arena to play the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Los Angeles tied a franchise record by allowing five power-play goals Tuesday in a 5-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild.
It marked the third time in franchise history that the Kings gave up five power-play goals in one game. The mark was set in an 8-3 loss on Nov. 16, 1982 to the Minnesota North Stars and matched in a 9-2 setback on Oct. 11, 1987, to the Edmonton Oilers.
Tuesday's loss was the Kings' sixth in a row. They have not dropped seven straight since a franchise-record 11-game slide from March 16-April 4, 2004.
"We've got to fight through the negativity," Los Angeles coach Andy Murray said. "The players know there's no excuse for not playing better than we did (Tuesday). We're not on top of our game."
Kings goaltender Mathieu Garon has dropped his last five starts with a 4.51 goals-against average and a .730 save percentage. He does, however, have a 1-0-1 record with a 1.44 GAA and a .954 save percentage against the Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets also tied a franchise record by giving up five power-play goals Monday in a 7-4 loss to the Vancouver Canucks that ended Columbus' five-game winning streak - also a franchise-best.
"We made it 4-3 and unfortunately we got a couple of calls after that we didn't like and they scored on the power play," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. "They got a pretty good power play."
Columbus also allowed five power-play goals in a 5-2 loss Nov. 13, 2003, against the Ottawa Senators.
Marc Denis started the game, but was yanked in favor of backup Pascal Leclaire after giving up four first-period tallies. Denis returned in the third after Leclaire suffered a back injury and yielded three more scores.
Despite the loss, the Blue Jackets return to Ohio as one of the hottest home teams in the league, having won four in a row and eight of nine. Columbus has scored four or more goals in seven of those contests while Denis has won his last six starts at home despite giving up at least three goals in five of those contests.
Forward Nikolai Zherdev has goals in each of his last three games overall and recorded at least one point in five of seven home games in January.
Columbus has been outscored 15-6 in three straight losses to Los Angeles.
STANDINGS: Kings - 65 points, 2nd place, 12 PB, Pacific Division. Blue Jackets - 46 points, 3rd place, 31 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Pavol Demitra, 20 goals; Lubomir Visnovsky, 38 assists; Craig Conroy, 53 points; Sean Avery, 195 PIM. Blue Jackets - Zherdev, 18 goals; David Vyborny, 26 assists and 41 points; Jody Shelley, 111 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Kings - Power play: 15.2 percent (58 for 381), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.4 percent (284 for 362), 29th. Blue Jackets - Power play: 15.0 percent (47 for 314), 27th. Penalty killing: 81.3 percent (304 for 374), 19th.
GOALTENDERS: Kings - Garon (21-14-3, 2 SO, 2.95 GAA); Jason LaBarbera (9-8-2, 0, 3.21). Blue Jackets - Denis (14-18-0, 1, 3.34); Leclaire (5-10-2, 0, 3.62).
SEASON SERIES: Kings, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 13; Kings, 8-2. At Columbus, Ohio, Conroy and Alexander Frolov each recorded hat tricks for the Kings. Jason Chimera had a goal and an assist for Blue Jackets.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Kings - 13-14-4 on the road; Blue Jackets - 14-12-0 at home.